time and a place for just about everything. Even Velveeta. Yep, it's the not-so-secret ingredient in this dish that makes it what it is.Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City. She is currently a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. Related: Recipe: Grits with Corn, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Tomatoes (Images: Nora Singley)
My mom gifted me a recipe binder years ago, filled to the brim with family dishes, laminated and all. And next to the quantity for Velveeta, she has written in parentheses ("that's right, Velveeta-- no substitutes!"), as if already predicting that her daughter would protest. But I'll hand it to her. There's something downright delicious about the Velveeta in these grits. It's creamier than a straight up cheddar-style cheese, in a buttery, heavy cream-laden kind of way. In this application, the Velveeta just, well, works. And when it bakes, it stays creamy, and adds a richness to the grits that makes for a recipe undeniably worthy of handing down.
There's this great distinction between the crispy cheesy top layer and the gooey cheesy middle. So while you don't need to bake it (omit the egg if you don't), there's something that makes it just a little more intriguing when it spends some time in the oven. If you'd like even more color on the top, throw it under your broiler for a few minutes when it comes out of the oven.
When the casserole bakes, expect some seriously toasty, cheesy aromas in the kitchen. The grits are equally good the next day, with a fried egg over top for breakfast. It makes a great side dish for any season, really. This time of year, I'd serve it alongside a simple salad and a quick summer succotash or saute of tomatoes, corn, and fresh herbs. I've served it with fried green tomatoes, too. It's a simple dish to assemble ahead of time and then throw in the oven when you're ready for it. You could fold in some cooked sausage or greens if you want to add some heft to it. It'd be nice served chicken, too, be it fried or roasted. The possibilities are pretty endless. Just don't forget the Velveeta.